Coping With Support

by: Ken O’Brien

IT Support!

It seems to be one of those expressions that makes people froth at the mouth and send a shiver down their backs. It takes forever to connect, and even when you do, they seem content to say anything in order to get rid of people.

How much of this is really true? In fairness to the better known PC and laptop builders, they do make an effort, and in recent years have offered customers feedback opportunities in order to help improve their service.

So how can you deal with or cope with IT support? Before looking at this there is one thing we need to remind ourselves of - Technology Breaks.

Ideally, everything we use would work perfectly 100% of the time. The reality is that this is never going to be true. Things do break and technology can fail. In the same way that a customer has shown confidence in buying a PC, a PC builder shows confidence in their product by guaranteeing it for a period of time. Hence the reason companies offer warranties and technical support.

Even so, the experience of technical support is not always good. Here are some guidelines that may help you survive it a little better.

Think of your own attitude

Our initial reaction to a problem can often be to blame whoever we get on the phone. The way technology companies set up their support only adds to this frustration. The merry-go-round of the telephone support may suit a business but is not designed to calm people. Often by the time we get to the support technician, our patience has all but run out. If you have a phone that allows you to work hands-free, take advantage of it and leave the phone down while it plays the background music. It will help conserve your patience. And remember the support person didn't build your PC.

Plan your call

Like any important call, think of what you are going to say. Try to write down exactly what the problem is. Write it in detail if you can. When you do eventually get through, this will help the technician get to the root of it.

Expect language difficulties

We would all love to hear a voice and an accent that we understand perfectly. However, in today's outsourcing and globalized world this is not always going to happen. Assume that the person on the other end may not understand you. They could be anywhere in the world, and much as you find them difficult to understand, they may also have the same problem. Be patient with them. While their accent may be different, it does not mean that they do not have the expertise.

Trust the support

While it is true that some support is not as good as others, don't immediately assume that the support you will get will be all bad. Assume that the technician will know what he or she is talking about. For many simple problems, this is the case.

It’s a shared problem

You are both trying to find an answer to your problem. By thinking of the problem as one, you can share, rather than have something to blame someone for; you increase the possibility of a quicker solution.


Learn some basic vocabulary about your problem, such as hard drive, monitor, desktop, program etc.. Tech support staff are usually trained or they are reading from a database of solutions, so every specific term that you use can help give a clearer picture of the problem. Technical support calls are not perfect and companies do not always help with the types of systems they use. Yet the call does not have to be the nightmare that we imagine. We can mitigate that by remembering that it is a problem that both parties are trying to solve.

About The Author

Ken O'Brien is the owner/manager of Spear IT, based in Drogheda [Ireland]. One of the services that Spear IT ( provides is technical support.

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